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Performer on Trial

We are prepared for this day. We are equipped with all the most modern camping accessories from a store in Denver. We are in shape from aerobic exercise, at least four times a week for several weeks. We are at the edge of civilization, brought here by a friendly van driver along rain-gouged roads. My […]

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Authoritarian El Sistema

El Sistema, the Venezuelan youth orchestra program spearheaded by Gustavo Dudamel and the Simón Bolívar Youth Orchestra, was created in 1975. It was the orchestra’s Proms debut in 2007, however, that cemented El Sistema’s place on the global stage, with Simon Rattle claiming that it was “the most important thing happening in music anywhere in […]

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On Quitting

Some years from now, you might find yourself looking back on a former hobby or pastime, something you’ve long since ceased, with nostalgia—maybe with a pang of regret. This happens to most of us at some point in our lives, that bodiless longing for the passions or diversions we used to keep. And at this […]

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There’s something about an annoying office job that makes you idealize working with your hands, even if you have—like me—no aptitude for it at all. Last winter, I applied for an apprenticeship at the organ builder Orgelbau Scheffler, in the tiny, former East German village of Sieversdorf, outside Berlin, with a romantic idea of learning […]

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